Chetan Bhagat’s first novel was rejected by every publisher in town until it found a home in Daryaganj. Later, publishers who had rejected his manuscript licked their wounds and went on the hunt for someone who would repeat Bhagat’s success. Inevitably, a lot of bad stuff got published.
In Diksha Basu’s Opening Night, a young Princeton graduate of Indian descent comes to Mumbai hoping for a Bollywood career. Naiya Kapur discovers a place different from the one her parents had left behind. In the by-lanes of the northern suburbs she finds a world of cocaine users, casual sex and transgendered prostitutes. “There were a lot of sleazy men around.... Men my father’s age or older, with beer bellies and bad breath, who thought I would jump into bed with them.” To her surprise, the women of Bandra wore short skirts and tank tops; the place was no different from New York, except that here she did not have to sit through Carnatic music recitals in suburban homes.
The book is often amusing, and moves along briskly. Will HarperCollins hit the jackpot? Publishing is like making movies. No one knows what will sell and what will sink like a stone.
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